Media pluralism, the Greek language and the quality of news received by Greek audiences could suffer a blow at the hands of the EU: The Greek service of Euronews is threatened with closure by December 15 as funding from the EU Commission could be withdrawn.
What’s behind this?
Back in the summer, Euronews Greece employees had a teleconference with the company’s CEO Michael Peters.
He told them that the business plan management is proposing to the European Commission for the next years not to include funds for the Greek Service.
According to people present the reasons were:
a) Greek is a little-spoken language and Greece a tiny market, and
b) things had settled down in the country.
Apparently in his vision, Euronews should serve audiences only from countries at the brink of financial and/or social collapse.
The Greek Service would be the only official EU language to close down despite funding from the Commission.
The company has already terminated collaboration with freelancers. 24 journalists, technical and administrative staff could now also lose their jobs.
Employees at Euronews’ Greek service said in a statement they “expect that the European Commission will not renounce [the values of equality of member states and languages] on mere economic and demographic criteria.”
The Journalists’ Union in Athens has sent a letter to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, EU Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas and Commissioner Thierry Breton.
“Greek language’s low pervasiveness is completely ignoring its cultural value… as well as its significance for Greece and Cyprus & the Greek Diaspora,” the letter said.
“Greeks and Cypriots are an important part of the European public and not a negligible minority… this decision impinges on the Greek language and directly affects multilingualism, a value embraced and promoted by the European Union.
The letter said the Union has decided “to support our colleagues whose jobs are threatened… unless EURONEWS management revokes their decision, which violates journalists and media workers rights, threatens quality of news information and delivers a blow to European culture.”
Euronews says it prides itself for its “European DNA” and “unrivalled coverage of European affairs, benefiting from a multicultural and multilingual newsroom”.
How eliminating its Greek service aligns with those lofty declarations is anyone’s guess.